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2018/10/02 New function: Contract Crafting preview

Since the removal of the Glitter Dust function, the production team has been continuously thinking about how to design a new crafting system. We want a system that allows players to craft characters using other collectible items, as well as one that improves on the previous problems of the Glitter Dust function.

A review of the Glitter Dust function

After collecting feedback from social media and some discussions within the team, we believe that there were two major issues regarding the Glitter Dust function. The first issue was Glitter Dust's very limited obtain method. It can only be obtained via Infuse (and via Million Infuse of all things). There were no other ways for players to obtain Glitter Dust. The second issue is that there were no proper rules regarding the things that can be crafted and the universally fixed "price" for crafting.

A design like this, while simple and straightforward, has many problems. The fixed "price" meant that there is very little room for design flexibility. On top of that, the fact that Glitter Dust can only be obtained via Infuse certainly didn't help. These two reasons together were what caused the backlash from players.

Base on this conclusion, we redesigned a new character crafting system. The goals of this design are the following:

  1. To allow all players to obtain the items by playing and have a relatively consistent way to get the characters they want.
  2. To ensure fairness for players who obtained the characters via Infuse, newer rare characters may not be available in the crafting system immediately after their release

New function: Origin Stone

Right now, after exceeding a character to +10, the only thing players can do to remaining Character Minerals is to smash them. We decided to design our new function base on this.

With this new function, when a character reaches +10, players can now spend 10 Character Minerals (of the +10 character), 2 Tear of Dragon Slayer and 2000 Curren to obtain an "Origin Stone". Once players collected enough Origin Stones, they can then use those to perform "Contract Crafting" to obtain a character.

About accumulating Origin Stones

The ways that players can obtain Character Minerals in-game are much more varied. This includes Mineral Quests, Treasure Hunt missions and Infuses. Therefore, each player will accumulate Origin Stones at a different pace. We predict that most players will accumulate around 15 ~ 25 Origin Stones per month at the later stages of the game.

In addition, the other material required to make Origin Stones is the "Tear of Dragon Slayer". Players will need ways to consistently obtain it. Right now, we've already added a facility in the Guild that produces Tears of Dragon Slayer. We are currently considering giving it the same treatment as "Tear of Ancient Dragon", which is giving it a fixed slot in the Market.

About Contract Crafting

As we mentioned above, one of the Main issues of the Glitter Dust function is its lack of design flexibility. To address this issue, the Contract Crafting system will be similar to limited time events. During each event, several characters will be available for crafting. The crafting system will have three different "prices": 5, 20, and 50 Origin Stones required. The three prices correspond to Tier R, Tier SR and Tier SSR SP characters. When deciding which character to make available during each Contract Crafting event, we will put the requirement for different types of players as well as overall fairness into consideration.

Conclusion

The Origin Stone system is expected to go live on the next major patch (1.4.0). Players can start to accumulate Character Minerals and Tears of Dragon Slayer now. When the patch updates, the first series of Contract Crafting event will go live as well. More details will be included in the update announcements.

2018/09/29 Further explanation regarding the character balance adjustments

After the release of the “Character balance adjustments and the outlook for WT's competitive environment” post on the official website, we’ve noticed some strong feedback from several players communities. First of all, we’d like to thank all players for your passionate discussions. After organizing the feedback we received from the communities, we have organized the concerns into 5 questions and we are here to address those concerns.

1. Why nerf the characters/ Skill Books? Why not buff other characters/ Skill Books instead?

We do understand that nerfing characters/ Skill Books would directly harm the playing experience of Sdorica players, and we are certainly trying our best to avoid doing so. However, for this particular case, the adjustments we made are the best options we could come up with after considering all other possible solutions.

For instance, the main issue about Puggi [Alt] is that players benefit from his 4-orb skill much more than other white characters. If we choose to buff other white characters’ 4-orb skill, it will lead to a situation where the white characters’ 4-orb skills are much better than gold/ black characters’ 4-orb skill. To balance this, we will need to buff other characters’ 4-orb skills as well.

However, Puggi [Alt]’s 4-orb skill actually relies on the black and gold character teamed with him. If all characters’ 4-orb skills are buffed, Puggi [Alt]’s 4-orb skill will also benefit from their buff, making it still the superior option when compared to other white characters’ 4-orb skills.

To simplify the statement above:

White characters’ 4-orb skills normally have an effectiveness of 4, while Puggi [Alt]’s 4-orb skill can have an effectiveness of 8 at maximum (4 from gold character + 4 from black character)

→ To balance, we buff all other White characters so that their 4-orb skill can have an effectiveness of 8 as well.

→ To prevent players from over-relying on white characters’ 4-orb skills, we then buff all Black and Gold characters’ 4-orb skills to have an effectiveness of 8 as well.

→ Puggi [Alt]’s 4-orb skill now has an effectiveness of 16 (8+8). Still broken comparing to other white characters.

From the example, we can tell that when a skill’s benefit actually relies on other characters teamed with it, it is not possible to do balance adjustments by just buffing other characters. Under this circumstance, we need to fix the root cause of the imbalance by adjusting the mechanism of certain skills, and that’s why we have to nerf the 4-orb skill of Puggi [Alt].

2. Why focus on the highly utilized / popular team comps? We spent tons of time collecting them but now they are useless.

At first, I would like to clarify that the team comps which were nerfed are just not too powerful anymore, but they are still very much competitive ones. For example, Puggi [Alt]’s 4-orb skill is still one of the most efficient skills among all white characters.

From the perspective of level design, specific team comps being utilized too often is not a good thing for Sdorica’s long-term development. This means that the design of every quest will have to be based on those mainstream team comps. If the power gap between team comps becomes too wide, it would result in a situation where “If I don’t use the mainstream team comps, I simply won’t be able to clear the quests easily.” The team comp variety will be further bogged down by a few overpowered characters.

Team comps which are powerful only under certain circumstances can be confined by level design. As for those which are powerful and versatile in many situations, we can only shrink the gap between them and other team comps by nerfing them.

The reason why team comps that contain Puggi [Alt] or Yamitsuki [Alt] are so popular is precisely because of their versatility. They are very effective in most quests.

3. I just want to play the game casually but you guys just keep changing WT quests and now you’re even nerfing popular comps. Isn’t this too stressful for casual players?

After the balance adjustment went live, we will review the difficulty of WT quests again and make some proper adjustments. Due to WT’s competitive nature, it require a certain level of difficulty and variability. Designing proper difficulty levels and balancing the rewards for both casual and hardcore players are things that we’ve always been working on.

We adjusted WT’s daily reward twice in the past. We hoped to reduce the stress for casual players.However, This still doesn’t address the issue completely. In the long-term, only be adding a non-competitive gameplay can the casual players be released from the stress of competitiveness. We’ve been working on a cumulative and self-challenging gameplay which focus on progress and discovery. It would allow players to have other endgame options other than WT.

4. Nolva and Puggi are characters who are easy to obtain. However, isn’t the nerf to Yamitsuki [Alt] too much for those who Infused a lot for Yamitsuki?

In the past, we didn’t put the rarity of the characters into consideration when designing the Character skills. There are two sides to this issue. First, in the long term, if we design the skills according to the rarity, this could lead to a vicious circle where each subsequent character becomes more powerful than the previous ones. On the positive side, players may feel more rewarded when they obtained a rare character. On the contrary, the feeling of disappointment will be even more severe when players are unable to obtain those characters.

Should the strength of a character be connected to its rarity? This is a topic worthy of a lengthy discussion. There could be no definite answer, since players will have vastly different opinions. However, we want to gather more feedback on this issue to decide how we will proceed in the future. We sincerely hope that players can provide us with more feedback regarding this topic.

5. The balance adjustments this time are much more significant than the one before. Is there a standard range for future balance changes?

Since the skill of Nolva, Puggi [Alt] and Yamitsuki [Alt] are all earlier designs, the model for statistical balance back then is still not quite completed. This resulted in the imbalance for these characters being more impactful than others.

In the past two months, the devs have concentrated their research on a better balance model. They have created a more stable, statistics-based process to evaluate the effectiveness of skill sets.

The balance adjustments this time are the results of evaluating the older skill sets’ effectiveness with the new model. The skill sets adjusted this time are the ones who are performing 1.5 times better than the norm.

We sincerely hope that the range and frequency of future balance changes can be reduced using the new model and design process. We want to provide players with a more stable environment in terms of the game’s strategy.

Conclusion

Once again, allow us to show our appreciation for the support and feedback from our players. We hope that with a post like this, we can have more in-depth discussions and understandings with our players regarding the issue of character balances. Although the balance adjustments will inevitably bring many kinds of opinions, both positive and negative, we’ll still keep working hard to improve the strategy gameplay experience for Sdorica.

Thank you.

2018/09/28 Character balance adjustments and the outlook for WT's competitive environment

Hello everyone, I am Jason. I'm the person in charge of designing the quests and character skills in Sdorica team. I appreciate this opportunity to talk to everyone about some of our future plans, as well as the upcoming character balance adjustments.

Right now, the endgame content for the game is almost entirely focused on the daily Wonderland Trials. Our goal is to ensure that players can continue to find enjoyment in repeated clears of the Wonderland Trials. Here's what we have planned so far:

  1. A brand-new quest every month that will introduce new enemy mechanics and scoring rules. This will give different characters an opportunity to be utilized in WT.
  2. Wonderland Trial chests once every two weeks. This will allow players to rethink the best team comp solution for the quest.
  3. Weekly free characters. Besides letting players try out characters they don't own, we also have plans to include some experimental new characters. Players will have a chance to create a unique team never seen before.
  4. Occasional quest scrambles. By reorganizing quests that players already found the best solution to, we create new challenges for these quests. Players will have to reconsider where to use which character due to the different quest lineups.
  5. Occasional character balance changes. By observing the statistics of the current Wonderland Trials, we can determine which characters aren't utilized as much as others. By readjusting their skills and roles, we will allow these under-utilized characters to find a place in more WT quests and/or team comps.

We hope that with the aforementioned designs, the Wonderland Trials can be in a state of constant change. That way, the players will constantly have new strategic challenges when it comes to the WT quest.

We've also noticed that a competitive system like the Wonderland Trials can't satisfy players of all types. In the feedback we collected, many players have requested a gameplay mode that is cumulative (Doesn't reset weekly) and self-challenging (Without direct competition from other players). We are currently developing a new system that focuses on exploration and collection. We hope that this new system can bring players a different kind of enjoyment in gameplay experiences.

The next section of this post is about the character balance adjustments we are implementing this patch. Due to considerations for the long-term balance of the game and future characters designs, the adjustments this time will be much more widespread and impactful than the previous ones. For Yamitsuki [Alt] and Puggi [Alt], who both received major changes in this patch, there will be a time period of two weeks where players can return these Skill Books for a refund of 1990 Crystallines. (The refund button will appear on the Character info page for the Skill Books)

The character balance adjustments scheduled to go live on 10/17:

  1. Izumi
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Adjust Izumi's 1-orb and 4-orb skills so he has more stability upon entering the "Open" position.
    • 1-orb skill adjustments
      • All tiers:
        • If umbrella is in the "Close" position, enter the "Open" position for all turns; upon taking damage, shift back to "Close" (Previously 8 turns).
        • If umbrella is in the "Open" position, grant selected ally Taunt for 3 turns instead (Previously 1 turn).
    • 4-orb skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR:
        • If umbrella is in the "Close" position, enter the "Open" position for all turns with passive activated (Previously 6 turns).
        • If umbrella is in the "Open" position, evolve passive Attack (ATK:2) for all turns instead. If already evolved, Heal (ATK:2.7) player character with lowest HP, grant self 1 stack of Close Immunity instead.
      • Tier SR:
        • If umbrella is in the "Close" position, enter the "Open" position for all turns with passive activated (Previously 6 turns).
        • If umbrella is in the "Open" position, Heal (ATK: 2.7) player character with lowest HP, grant self 1 stack of Close Immunity instead.
      • Tier R:
        • If umbrella is in the "Close" position, enter the "Open" position for all turns with passive activated (Previously 6 turns).
        • If umbrella is in the "Open" position, grant self 1 stack of Close Immunity instead.
  1. Dagger
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Rework Dagger's Passive Skill so he can have a potential place in "suicide teams".
      • Rework Dagger's Advisor Skill so he can be utilized more as an Advisor.
    • Passive Skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR: Upon death of ally, grant self Rage and trigger self 2-orb skill.
      • Tier SR: Upon death of ally, grant self Rage and trigger self 1-orb skill.
    • Advisor Skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR: Increase black character's skill ratio by 30%.
      • Tier SR: Increase black character's skill ratio by 25%.
      • Tier R: Increase black character's skill ratio by 20%.
      • Tier N: Increase black character's skill ratio by 15%.
  1. Fatima
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Adjust Fatima's Passive Skill so she can combo with more character skills.
      • Rework Fatima's Advisor Skill so players can experience the features and advantages of the "Auto-battle team" easier.
    • Passive Skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR: Upon incoming damage skill, grant self Enhance for 3 turns (Previously "Upon death of target…").
      • Tier SR: Upon incoming damage skill, grant self Enhance for 2 turns (Previously "Upon death of target…").
      • Tier R: Upon incoming damage skill, grant self Enhance (Previously "Upon death of target…").
    • Advisor Skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR and SR: Upon start of each battle, trigger black character's 2-orb skill.
      • Tier R and N: Upon start of each battle, trigger black character's 1-orb skill.
  1. Sharice
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Improve Sharice's existing role, so she can combo more consistently with the gold character.
    • 1-orb skill adjustments
      • All tiers: Grant self 3 stacks Enhance. Grant selected enemy Enhance. (Previously 2 stacks, all enemies).
    • 2-orb skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR and SR: Attack (ATK:0.2) gold character and (ATK:2) front row enemy. Grant enemy 2 stacks Vulnerability for 2 turns. (Increase Attack ratio ATK*1.8 -> ATK*2)
      • Tier R: Attack (ATK:0.2) gold character and (ATK:2) front row enemy. Grant enemy Vulnerability for 2 turns. (Increase Attack ratio ATK*1.8 -> ATK*2, now attacks gold character)
  1. Hestia
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Adjust Hestia's 4-orb skill so she has better crowd control capabilities, thus lowering the chance for enemies to interrupt Regen.
      • Adjust Hestia's Advisor skill so she provides better support to allies with debuffs.
    • 4-orb skill adjustments
      • All tiers: Armor Penetration (ATK:2.25) selected enemy, grant target CD +2.
    • Advisor Skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR: Reduce CD from [CD: 3] -> [CD: 2].
      • Tier SR: Reduce CD from [CD: 4] -> [CD: 3].
      • Tier R and N: Reduce CD from [CD: 5] -> [CD: 4].

After looking at the statistics accumulated from the past few months of gameplay, we've discovered that a few characters/Skill Books are overwhelmingly prevalent in team comps. These characters far exceeded our original design expectations for them and have made designing quests much harder. Also, since the difficulty design of the quests is determined by these mainstream teams, it further pushes other team comps out of the competitive environment.

To balance this, we plan to adjust the following characters/Skill Books.

  1. Nolva
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Due to a design error in Nolva's original ratios, her expected damage value on consecutive 4-orb skill casts is significantly higher than any other black character. This is especially noticeable when facing multiple enemies at once. The "Consecutive 4-orb skill casts" not only gets buffed by the Vulnerability effect of the 4-orb skill itself. It's also buffed by Nolva's Passive Skill. Therefore, we decided to adjust the effects of her 4-orb skill as well as her Passive Skill. To make up for some of the lost damage value, we also increased the damage on her 1-orb skill. We hope a "1-orb+4-orb" combo can become a viable damage output.
    • 1-orb skill adjustments
      • All tiers: Increase True Damage ratio from ATK*0.5 -> ATK*0.75.
    • 4-orb skill adjustments
      • Tier SSR: True Damage (ATK:2) all enemies. Grant ally and all enemies 1 stack Vulnerability (Previously 3 stacks).
      • Tier SR and R: Increase True Damage ratio from ATK*1 -> ATK*1.5.
    • Passive Skill adjustments
      • The effect now directly increases Nolva's skill ratio with a higher percentage.
      • Tier SSR: If any ally has Vulnerability, increase self skill ratio by 30% for each ally present (Previously "any character", increase skill power by 20%).
      • Tier SR: If any ally has Vulnerability, increase self skill ratio by 20% for each ally present (Previously "any character", increase skill power by 15%).
  1. Yamitsuki [Alt]
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Yamitsuki [Alt] is very popular at the Advisor position. The main reason for that is because the combo potential provided by her Advisor Skill is just too powerful. The adjusted skill set will slightly slow down combos with her Advisor Skill. At the same time, it will also improve her usefulness as a black character.
    • 1-orb skill adjustments
      • Armor Penetration (ATK:0.6) selected enemy. Grant self Damage Reduction for 3 turns (Previously: If target has Damage Reduction, copy 1 stack for 6 turns).
    • 2-orb skill adjustments
      • Armor Penetration (ATK:1.35) selected enemy. Grant self Enhance for 3 turns (Previously: If target has Enhance, copy 1 stack for 6 turns).
    • Passive Skill adjustments
      • If have both Enhance and Damage Reduction, increase self skill ratio by 30%.
    • Advisor Skill adjustments
      • Upon player's turn, if ally has both Enhance and Damage Reduction, trigger 1-orb skill (Previously: Upon the end of player's turn).
  1. Puggi [Alt]
    • Ideas behind the adjustments
      • Puggi [Alt]'s 4-orb skill will trigger the 4-orb skills of his two allies, which is essentially a two-for-one deal in terms of orb efficiency. However, the negative effect that was supposed to balance this out simply won't trigger on many occasions (Since the enemies are just straight up dead). This caused Puggi [Alt]'s power level to be significantly higher than what we originally expected when designing him. Therefore, this adjustment will redesign the negative effect of his 4-orb skill.
    • 4-orb skill adjustments
      • Grant all allies Exhaust for 3 turns, then trigger their 4-orb skills.

Due to the adjustments to Yamitsuki [Alt] and Puggi [Alt], we will be offering full refunds of 1990 Crystallines on these two Skill Books if players want to return them. The refund period will be from 2018/10/17 ~ 2018/10/31. All players who own Nolva will receive an adjustment compensation of 300 Crystals on 2018/10/17.